The Shift Into Real Life
Just as I was graduating High School, my parents did something great, they offered to buy me a car. I was soon to be a college commuter we were a one car family. Have two cars made getting to and from school much much easier. So there we were, at the Saturn dealership, staring at her: the cheapest car on the lot. She was actually a brand new car, left over from the previous year. So why, we wondered, did no one want her? For starters, she had virtually no “extras”. (Many of these are things most people would consider standard features!) No power windows. No power locks. Not even power steering. Is that even legal nowadays? But here’s the kicker, she had a manual transmission, a stickshift. But the trouble was, I didn't know how to drive a stickshift. But my father and the car dealer assured me it wasn't hard to learn. So there we were, purchasing a car I couldn't even drive. My father drove me and my new car home, and a new adventure began.
Over the next several weeks my father explained to me the balancing act between gas and clutch and all that is required for a hill start. (Our driveway happened to be one giant hill just off of a busy street. Lucky me.) Lurching around town the first few lessons were pretty rough going. Starting in 3rd gear. Stalling at green lights. Stalling at red lights. Stalling at stop signs. Almost getting hit by an ambulance...all part of a season I now remember with humility. My father even recommended that we talk to the car dealership about returning the car. To this I replied, “Dad! A car isn't like a pair of pants! You can’t just return it!”
Throughout all this, I remember thinking that I couldn't believe someone actually designed a car to work like that. But most of all, I clearly remember a strong wish that I had learned how to drive stickshift before purchasing one.
And while the shift (pardon the pun) from High School to college and then to the real world can sometimes be smooth, often I see young people have an experience that more closely resembles me trying to hill start, in third gear, with an ambulance behind me. And when I transferred colleges, changed majors, tried to balance school, ministry and a relationship that was headed toward marriage I remember asking “Can God really have designed life to work like this?”
During my early and mid 20’s I received some great advice and teaching from friends and mentors. In 2 Peter 1:10 God affirms what these people shared where He says, “Therefore, brothers (and sisters), be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” If you who are reading this blog are feeling the same way I was, then my prayer is this. Consider your calling into the family of God first, and then rest of your life in the real world will find its proper place. For when we are called to be a follower of Jesus, we are not called alone. We are called to join a faithful church, and be surrounded by people who can encourage us along the way.
Oh, and by the way I love driving stick shift now. Cait’s car from high school just died a few months ago and we had to purchase a new one. And believe it or not, our new Jeep doesn’t have power windows, nor power locks and you guessed it. It’s a stick shift, which Cait picked up a lot easier than I did! Hope everyone has a great summer!
Note: The photograph for this post was taken by one of my parents. I know it is blurry, but it is one of the only photos of my old car.